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Full text of "My country and my people"

IDEALS    OF    LIFE
village matters and annual celebrations. Its monks and nuns penetrate the privacies of Chinese households, on all occasions of births, deaths and weddings, as no other persons are allowed to do, and hardly a widow or virgin can be seduced, according to the Chinese novels, without the help of these religious figures.
Buddhism, in short, means to the Chinese people what religion means to people in other countries, namely, something that comes to the rescue when human reason falters or fails. In modern China Buddhist monks are more popular than Taoist monks and for every Taoist temple (kuan) there are ten Buddhist temples (miao) to be found. As late as 1933-4 the Panchen Lama of Thibet sprinkled holy water over tens of thousands of people in Peiping and Nanking, including high government personages like Tuan Ch'ijui and Tai Chit'ao, and was royally entertained by the Central and local governments in Nanking, Shanghai, Hangchow and Canton. As late as May, 1934, Nola Kotuhutu, another Thibetan lama, as official guest of the Canton Government, publicly declared his ability to protect people against poison gas by incantations, and actually was able to influence a certain general to change the position of his guns at this fort through his superior knowledge of astrology and necromancy. Their influence would not be so great if the Chinese could see a clear way to repel Japanese attacks by modern military science* The Chinese reason here falters, and therefore turns to religion. Since the Chinese army cannot help the Chinese, they are willing to be helped by Buddba,
Buddhism has conquered China as a philosophy and as a religion, as a philosophy for the scholars and as a religion for the common people. Whereas Confucianism has only a philosophy of moral conduct, Buddhism possesses a logical method, a metaphysics, and a theory of knowledge. Besides, it is fortunate in having a high tradition of scholarship in the translations of Buddhist classics, and the language of these translations, so succinct and often so distinguished by a beautiful lucidity of language and reasoning, cannot but attract scholars with a philosophical bias. Hence Buddhism has always enjoyed a prestige among the Chinese scholars, which so far Christianity has failed to achieve.